(Notre Dame, Indiana) The women's basketball team continued their home stand Tuesday night against crosstown arch-rival Indiana University-South Bend. The Titans narrowly escaped the Saints early last year, and this game went down to the final seconds as well.
Forty minutes was not enough to decide this contest, as the final 7.3 seconds counted down, anything could have happened, and it did.
The Saints overcame a slow start, and battled back and forth between the Titans of IUSB. Holy Cross shot 41% in the opening half, but just 2-7 from behind the arc. Lindsey Steffen (Nappanee, Indiana) paced the Saints in the first half, accounting for 8 points and an assist in 10 minutes. Her 3 first half personal fouls forced her to be on the bench for the remainder of the first period.
Junior guard Lauren Malinowski (Dearborn Heights, Michigan) added on 7 points, 2 assists, and 3 steals, and sophomore Megan Eve (Scottsburg, Indiana) tacked on 3 points to go with an assist and 1 steal in the first 20 minutes.
The Saints enjoyed a slim lead for most of the second half, often being tied with the Titans or up just a few points. The second half was worth the price of admission, as a tight finale ensued, and neither team was ever more than a couple baskets away from the lead.
The Saints opened up a 50-45 lead with 9:47 remaining in the second half, but the Titans battled back using their size and speed to knot the game at 58. During a crucial moment in the game with 4 minutes left in regulation, sophomore Mariah Salazar (South Bend, Indiana) fouled out, forcing Steffen to come off the bench with 4 fouls.
Holy Cross caught a break late in the half when IUSB's second leading scorer Emily Peppers-VanNamee fouled out with 1:24 remaining in the game. The Saints found themselves leading 64-62 with just 7.3 seconds remaining in the game, however the Titans made two free throws to even the score at 64 and force overtime.
The Saints kept pace in the overtime period, leading 67-66 with 3:47 to go, and were up 71-68 thanks to a Titan turnover and a breakaway layup by Jacques Donaldson (South Bend, Indiana) with 1:45 left in overtime.
The Titans then took advantage of a 4-0 run to put the Saints in a must-score situation. The Saints had the last chance in overtime with 5.9 seconds remaining, as they were to inbound the ball underneath their own basket. The Titans stole the inbounds pass and held on for victory, 72-71.
The Saints collectively improved on offense, shooting 42.6% from the field and 42.9% from behind the arc for the game; and no, that is not a misprint. The Saints also had four double-digit scorers in Megan Eve's 14, Lauren Malinowski's 16, Jacques Donaldson's 10 and Lindsey Steffen's 12. Freshman Shelbi Westerhouse (Valparaiso, Indiana) added 9 and Salazar tacked on 6.
Costly turnovers in sticky situations hindered the Saints, who lost the ball 31 times. Size also played a large factor in the game, as the Titans were able to out rebound Holy Cross 48-23. The Saints defense, however, came up big numerous times down the stretch, forcing 37 turnovers and not allowing a Titan 3-pointer all game long.
The Saints drop to 0-3, and face Indiana Wesleyan Friday night at the Pfeil Center. Tip-off is scheduled for 7:00 PM.